One of the best networking events I go to each year is South By Southwest (SXSW). In Austin, TX every spring, it features interactive, music and film industry panels, a trade show, concerts, film screenings and social events. The city of Austin is packed for 10 days, and I recently registered for the 2014 festival.
One of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that it is one of the busiest networking and business development weeks of the year. It is not that often that so many decision makers come out from multiple industries to one city.
I take networking at SXSW as an object lesson in preparation Every year SXSW publishes a guide to each portion of SXSW. Inside is a directory of all attendees and trade show participants. I always try to get the guide as early as possible so that I can see who will be there and make preparations to: 1) meet an influential person or client prospect at a panel session; 2) meet a potential client or referral course at the trade show; and/or 3) find a name of a person or with a company I want to make a connection with at one of the hosted social events.
Without the preparation, SXSW can be a hugely overwhelming experience. Preparation is key. It helps you focus your efforts so you don’t spin your wheels, and helps you target move valuable connections. Whether SXSW or anther event, do some advance preparation. If you have an attendee list for an event, get a hold of it and give it a skim. Who can you meet that will advance your career?